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Romania is full of legends, but probably when a Romanian is asked, he will invariably tell you the sad and romantic Legend of Manole.

In the tranquil town of Curtea de Arges, the old Wallachian court in the bank of the river Arges, near the Carpathian Range, lay one of the most famous monasteries in Romania, the Episcopal Church. This beautiful church was ordered to be erected by King Besarab I, also known as Besarab Black Heart due to his well known cruelty. But the church is not only known for its wonderful masonry work and frescoes, but rather for the legend of Manole.

King Besarab ordered the construction of the church to the architect Manole. It is said that the King wanted to build the most beautiful church ever. Manole set down to work, but everything that was constructed during the day fell down at night. Work was never finished. Fearing the King's rage, Manole and his co-workers consulted an oracle who told them that in order for the church to stand it needed a soul, a human soul. For that reason, if they ever wanted to finish up their work they would have to wall alive the first person that would approach the church with the first rays of sunrise. Although they thought this was rather cruel, they agreed, thinking of the King's mandate and reputation.
Manole's heart froze when the first person that showed up next day, with the first rays of sunshine was his wife, pregnant with his own child. She had decided to give him a surprise by bringing him breakfast since he had not gone back home to sleep that night. The legend sings the bitter tears that Manole wept having to see his wife sacrificed for the church he was constructing. He asked the winds and the rain to help him, but to no avail. No one could deliver Manole's wife from such cruel death.

But the legend does not end there. When the church was finally ended, the King ordered Manole and his companions to be locked in one of the towers of the monastery. King Besarab was so obviously satisfied with the outcome of their work that he did not want them to reveal to any other prince their secrets. The church would remain unique in its beauty. However, Manole, built himself a pair of wings and tried to escape jumping from the tower where he was condemned to die. His flight was short. He just managed to fly a few meters, but precipitated himself to the ground killing himself. The legend has it that in he spot where he fell a fountain rose.

If anybody visits the monastery in Curtea de Arges he will be shown where Manole's wife was walled in and the fountain that sprang in the spot where the unfortunate architect died.

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© World INvestment NEws, 2000.
This is the electronic edition of the special country report on Romania published in Forbes Global.
July 24th 2000 Issue.
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